Sunday, July 23, 2017

Altered Five Blues Band ~~ Charmed & Dangerous

Once again, a nice pile of CDs landed on my desk and I had the pleasure of going through them to find some very cool music. One that caught my eye was an album from a group that was completely unknown to me, but came from a very reliable source.
After looking online for some information about the Altered Five Blues Band, I discovered that they were a well-known band out of the Midwest and had a stellar reputation and a few other CDs to their credit. Charmed & Dangerous looked like a really good package, so that became my focus.
The Altered Five Blues Band consists of Jeff Taylor taking on the lead vocals, Jeff Schroedl on guitar, Mark Solveson on bass, Raymond Tevich on keyboards , and Alan Arber on drums. All 13 of the songs on the album were written by band members, usually in collaboration, almost always a good sign.
The opening track, coincidentally the title track, Charmed & Dangerous, kicks off with an explosion of sound – plenty of funk (especially in Solvenson’s bass) and some very cool blues lyrics. This sounds like a band that kicks ass and plays loud. They have a great sand and I’m eager to see what they will do for the rest of the album.
Next up is the swinging Mint Condition. Schroedl’s guitar keeps the song going, but don’t discount Tevich’s keys adding a nice touch on the organ. Taylor does some great shouting on the song, and this one would definitely be a crowd pleaser when done live.
For Three Forks, they get back to some funky blues. Taylor’s voice is very impressive and they add Steve Cohen’s harp to great effect. I like this song a lot and play on dropping it in an episode of Time For The Blues. Oh man, can Schroedl play a guitar break. Damn, these guys are good.
They follow up with On My List To Quit, a strong blues rock song. Taylor’s voice has a great edge on this song and Arber gets a good workout on the drums. This one is great swamp funk! After that is If Your Heart Went Public, a slower more intense number that really gives Schroedl a chance to shine. It’s a unique song that kind of caught me by surprise in a good way. This is a sweet blues number that should satisfy just about any lover of the genre.
There’s a great opening to Gonna Lose My Lady, and the tempo keeps rolling through the entire song. It’s a fast-paced blues song that trades off Schroedl’s guitar and Tevich’s keys. I like this one a lot and think that it could get some solid airplay.
Some blistering guitar opens up Cookin’ In Your Kitchen, layered on top of some very cool keyboards. Taylor then steps behind the microphone for a good old-fashioned preaching blues song. This is about as old-school as you can get, the the band delivers in a big way. I can’t wait to share this one with our audience.
She’s Still Crazy opens with a lot of energy and some fancy fret work from Schroedl. It reminds me of some of the best of STAX’ releases, solid blues with some funky R&B backing it up. Tevich plays some amazing keys on the song and this one is a great one to play to get an audience up on the dance floor. Even though he’s not listed on the song, it sure sounds like Steve Cohen is playing the harp.
The next song, Eighth Wonder features Candice Smith on backing vocals, and while Steve Cohen is listed as playing harp, I can’t really pick him out. Probably a blown headphone on my part. It’s a smoldering number, a blues confessional if you will, and Taylor carries the song with a deep reverence. The percussion gives it a gospel flavor and Taylor’s voice reaches to the heavens, as does Schoedl’s guitar.
Three Alarm Desire follows and, as the title indicates, it’s a smoking number. The band kicks into high gear and then ebbs and flows, but when they are rocking, they are rocking hard. After that is Small Talk, which features Candice Smith again adding her vocals to the mix. By now it’s more than obvious that this band can handle blues, funk, R&B, and rock with ease and they blend them all together to create a raucous partying style.
Speaking of funk and rock, Rotten, the next number, has a bit of both in it. I like the number a lot, it has plenty of blues in the lyrics, but plays a little with the music creating a very cool dark number. Listen for Tevich’s break on the electric piano.
They close the album with Look What You Made Me Do. It’s a traditional sounding blues song with a touch of swing. This is a very versatile band that performs some very strong down-home blues. Yeah, they are that good.
The Altered Five Blues Band is a Midwest phenomenon and it is high time that they were exposed to the rest of the country. They are good, solid musicians that write and play at a very high level. Charmed & Dangerous is easily going to be on my list of the Best of 2017, and this is one of those albums that I am going to have a difficult time deciding what to share on the show.
They are also part of something bigger – there is so much great music being performed by amazing individuals and bands. I will never be able to cover all of them, no matter how hard I try. I implore you, please get out and support those bands, discover them, let me know about them, and keep supporting those clubs that give these bands a chance to entertain you.
Be sure to check out The Altered Five Blues Band’s little piece of the world by stopping by, and see what they’re up to, and where they will be playing. I can assure you that if you catch them live, you are in for a great time!

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